What the French Call “Les Incompétents“
What the French Call “Les Incompétents” is available from:
RECORDED AND MIXED BY:
26th June, 2014
Alternative-Rock, Garage, ‘Britpop’, Punk
The fine Canadians have been exciting reviewers with What the French Call “Les Incompétents”‘s unique blend of pogo-ing sing-along and energised mutations. Waterbodies are a firm favourite across Canada and North America: the next year should see the trio rise through the ranks and capture worldwide hearts- it is what the French call “un garantie.”
FOLLOWING on from a couple of days where I have witnessed gentler…
and softer music, the next few days see my mind back in heavier areas: assessing Grunge and the most primal sounds music has to offer. Being in a daze since reviewing Little Sparrow- her Wishing Tree album was quite a revelation- I have to adjust my mind and prime it for a band- and sound- that is entirely different: music that strikes a different part of the brain and compels you to move- rather than seduces your heart. Before I get down to introducing my featured act, I want to bring up two- fairly common- points: North America and new music. I understand I have introduced these points before, yet I have not been able to fathom why the continent keeps providing such terrific music. In Europe, we have a load of terrific acts and musicians coming through: it seems that North America are leading the charge and causing a lot of excitement (in me at least). In so far as I have surveyed great Folk and Power-Pop artists, it seems that- in this continent- heavier and more impassioned sounds mandate music’s new elite. It is a strange thing really: most of the artists I have heard coming through in North America lean towards electricity and hard-hitting music- of course there is more restrained and calmer music; it seems to be less prevalent. Not that I am ever going to complain: it is always terrific witnessing a new act come along that can whip up such a festival of sound and notes- take your brain clean out your body and invigorate the senses. Canada is showing itself to be one of music’s most exciting hot-spots: here, there is such a wealth of diverse and fantastic music coming through, it is almost hard to keep a track of it. Where the U.S. has a larger population and greater chances of music glory, it is their neighbours that are providing the finest sapling music in the world- keep your eyes peeled here for what is coming through at the moment. In previous reviews, I have tried to drill down to the bedrock: try to see why one particular country is putting forth so many tremendously exciting musicians. Perhaps the nation provides a sense of relaxation, freedom and inspiration that is conducive to terrific music: less bustle and crowding is evident here than other parts of the world (in terms of population). I shall introduce my second topic in a second, but for now, shall introduce the band:
“You can make a load of noise with bass, drums and guitar”
The Toronto-based group intrigue you with their sound and make-up: a fresh and urgent trio, they are among the most stirring acts coming through right now. It would be good to know more about the boys and what makes them tick: their online pages contain their music, but scant else with regards to influences and biography. I usually do not mind when a band do not incorporate- on their sites- their influences (you can draw your own conclusions); it would be good to know more about the band- where they came from and how they came together. A lot of musicians negate the importance of including details into the likes of Facebook: it not only gives new listeners a chance to learn more about a great act, but obtain greater insight into their songs. Perhaps- I hope they will as well- the guys will rectify this in the near-future: they have a sense of mystery, but a little glimpse into their psyche wouldn’t go amiss. Luckily any shortfallings in the online arena are overcome by the music that comes from them: you can fill in a lot of the blanks off of the back of their strong body of music. I shall study this in closer detail; for the moment, I want to talk about genres and trends emerging in 2014. Having been lucky enough to hear some terrific and diverse sounds, I am amazed by the breadth and sheer range of music that young talents are producing. It is not just the case there is a lot of difference and diversity: the way these musicians are fusing different sounds and genres together is quite magnificent. In addition to being blown away by Wishing Tree, I was stunned by the effortless commingle of Contemporary, Folk and Acoustic: the ensuing blend brought out the majesty and splendour of Little Sparrow’s incomparable and soul-nourishing tones- it is an album that nobody should miss out on. The bravest and most daring cross-pollination comes when I am considering masters of heavy and dominant music. Waterbodies are a great example of what I am talking about: not only do they infuse the raw and vital energies of this year- and contemporary acts- but go further- instilling elements of older acts into their compositions. Their latest offering sees shades of Green Day, Blur, Beastie Boys and Nirvana come through: everything from Grunge to ‘Britpop’ through to Punk- via a sprinkle of experimental Trip/Hip-Hop. When you are aiming for the jugular- trying to grab the listener very directly- it can be incredibly hard to do that- often simple and straightforward noise does not do the trick. For that reason, new musicians- whom provide this type of sound- are thinking outside of the box: fusing past colours into the palette; pouring a healthy amount of multifarious gas onto the fire- the resultant flame is that which does the talking. I hope that this trend for innovation continues, as the likes of Waterbodies showcase just what you can achieve (when you stretch your mind)- and dare to diversify and consider your projection. With the release of What the French Call “Les Incompétents”, tongues and excited mouths have been expounding its virtues and multiple qualities: I am glad that I have come across the song- and the band too.
In order to get a full sense of Waterbodies as they are, one must look back and see what came before. Back in November 2012, the trio released their album The Evil We Know– an eleven-track L.P. that gave the public the first tastes of one of Canada’s finest bands. Having listened to the album in full, I am stunned by how much there is to witness: a multitude of sounds and different themes come into play. Few artists present an album filled with so much confidence and authority. From the opening roars and determination of How to Burn Bridges, you are hooked and sucked in: that energy and passion that the band provide is quite intoxicating. It is not just pure force and pummel that comes through in the song: plenty of tantalising undertones and unexpected moments make the song such a memorable opening cut. Deadweight– sounding nothing like Beck’s equivalent- bounces and crawls: a jam-packed and emphatic song gets inside of your brain- the band look inwards here. Talking about carry the weight- maybe staying in a dead relationship and not giving yourself up for some deadweight- it has plenty of anger and recrimination at heart. Silver Spoon is accusatory and potent: if the subject keeps pushing their luck, they will be “pushing the daisies.” With a twisting and snarling composition, it is one of the L.P.’s most urgent tracks. The disc ends with Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea– not to be confused with the American popular number of the ’30s- and is the grand swan-song: throwing everything into the boiling pot it begins with a slow and teasing lead-in; the atmosphere builds and grows by the minute- it is the band’s epic. Showing that the can do introverted and ‘quiet’- the song does not reach the fever pitch of previous numbers- the trio demonstrate the importance of mood and emotion. The album is a stunning statement from a band with huge intentions: quite a hard record to top or compete with- it is an album that all forms of music-lover will enjoy and appreciate. If I were to fast-forward to June of this year- the month What the French Call “Les Incompétents” was unveiled- you can hear some developments. The band was busy making and recording music in the interim period- between their album and latest cut- yet there is definitely a different sound on display here. Employing embers and moments of The Evil We Know; What the French Call “Les Incompétents” sounds a braver, more confident jam: the band are tighter, more focused and compelling to the ear- there is a catchiness and sense of fun that was not overly-evident on their album. In so much as The Evil We Know did have smile and memorability, the band hit the jackpot here: What the French Call “Les Incompétents” is a sing-along classic that marks a moment of high inspiration from the three-piece. There are fewer suggestions of Nirvana-esque Grunge to be witnessed here: a fresher and more unique voice comes to the fore. I love The Evil We Know and all its myriad pleasures, yet feel that Waterbodies sound more inspired and intoxicating now: new influence is brought in to create a song that you are compelled to play again and again. I admire the band’s sense of ambition and mobility: their album was packed with surprise and huge quality; that momentum has continued on What the French Call “Les Incompétents”– it is going to be exciting to see where they are headed next.
If you are trying to think of any similar-sounding acts- you can compare to Waterbodies- then there may be one or two. Even though the boys do not list any idols (on Facebook), you can hear a couple of acts and names come through. When the vocals become impassioned and primal, shades of Kurt Cobain are evident. Eliciting that same guttural and primal sound, tracks such as How to Burn Bridges are rife with Grunge glory, Nirvana-esque highs and that distinct and stunning voice- our hero is different from Cobain, yet has some definite elements of the late legend. The band as a whole has an authoritative ear from Grunge and Hard-Rock: if you are a fan of these genres, you will find a lot of quality and scintillation in their music- reminding you of past masters and current-day wonder. Newer movements display an experimentation (and great) ear for mixing unexpected sounds: What the French Call “Les Incompétents” has touches of Paul’s Boutique- era Beastie Boys- tying Hip-Hop with Indie, it is a marvellous blend. It is not just Beastie Boys that come to mind- when looking at Hip-Hop- you see: modern-day acts from the genre spring to mind; if you are enamoured of this type of music- and its purveyors- then seek out Waterbodies. In addition to the aforementioned, the likes of Green Day and Blur struck my ear. Embers of Blur’s self-titled album come through in their latest song; some of their ‘Britpop’ energy and youthfulness makes its way into the band’s sound- if you listen to Waterbodies’ album, Blur make their presence known in a few numbers. Whilst this revelation and development is a new facet- on their new track- perhaps artists such as Jack White, Soundgarden and Green Day are more pertinent and obvious frames of reference. As well as Nirvana’s Nevermind making impressions on the boys, Chris Cornell’s Grunge posse can be extrapolated in some of The Evil We Know. The powerful and bare-chested vocals; the rampant and invigorating compositions- those introverted and bleaker themes make their voices known. Green Day must rank as an influence for Waterbodies. That white-hot and catchy Punk abandon that synonymised Dookie and American Idiot is used by Waterbodies: they are fully able to summon up a comparable urgency and quality in their music. Whilst our frontman may not have Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice- many may count that as a blessing- he has his own inimitable and potent sound. Jack White has been setting 2014 alight: his latest album Lazaretto is among this year’s most essential. That Blues-Rock and Garage brilliance (White is renowned for) can be found in some of Waterbodies’ songs. Their riffs and paens have that same lust and incredible musicianship; they conjoin embers of Blues icons with of-the-minute U.S. Blues-Rock- the ensuing infusion is quite a heady brew. In so much as you can pin the sound of Waterbodies (with other acts) they are not to be taken lightly: the Canadians have a unique and stunning sound that they have worked hard to perfect- the addition of some familiar voices only adds to their overall brilliance. If you like any of the acts I have mentioned; take the time to seek out and investigate Waterbodies: they are a band that want the listener to be entranced and seduced. Before I move on, I should mention the band’s themes and lyrics. Within their album, subjects looked at fractured love, burden, personal heartache and the need for change- perhaps incorporating traditional Grunge themes and ideas, there was a lot to digest. Whilst the likes of Nirvana and Soundgarden offer their own take on these themes, the trio go some way to appropriating their luster and striking songbooks: Waterbodies have a keen ear for intelligent lines and quotable choruses- plenty of authoritative and well thought-out ideas come through in their songs. A great deal of contemporaries have a weakness when it comes to their words: Waterbodies ensure that all of their tracks capture you on as many fronts as possible. I hope that has given an overview on the band and where they came from- what sort of sounds you should expect; an insight into the musical experience you will witness. I always say this in every review I write: take my words as a guideline and reference point- if you think Waterbodies are copycat and unoriginal, then you are in for a huge shock. Their album showcased just how potent a force they are- they have augmented and built on this for What the French Call “Les Incompétents.” It is probably the right time to introduce that particular song to you.
A sense of occasion and energy comes through straight off. Possessing a scratchy and determined riff- that marries the likes of Blur, Green Day and Nirvana- a myriad of Punk/Garage energy is summoned from the off. In the early stages our hero is freaked out and off-put; innocuous and disreputable sorts resonate in the vocal- that sense of isolation and anger emanates through the surface. When considering the lackers, slackers, blackers- and all comparative rhymes- you think our frontman is referring to the media and the tabloidization of the press. Perhaps speaking about society in general- and the people who cause dismay and disgust- there is an oblique quality to the words. Professing that he is that kind of guy, our hero implores “Baby just get in line.” With his voice incorporated of grit and underlying emotion; switching between sneer and laid-back honesty, the words strike and proffer hard. As the early stages progress, your thoughts turn more towards love and a particular type of relation. Our frontman calls out to his girl: “Just say the word and I’m all over“- with a resolute and determined masculine gravel, the sentiments get your mind racing and speculating. Before you can delve too deep into the realms and realities of the song’s messages, you get intoxicating and up-ended by the composition itself. Never truly exploding- within the opening seconds- it lurks and crawls; the guitar and bass drive the endless wave of words and intention; the percussion keeps levelled and firm- you imagine that something quite beastly and emphatic is about to come into view. Underpinning imminent tension and delirium, you are offered more words and insights. The hero looks at his girl; the sweetheart is his kind of girl- maybe possessing the same thoughts and intentions, you feel that some sort of libidinous crescendo may also be on the horizon. You get an image of what is being projected- and who is being surveyed- in some detail: in my mind there a smoky-eyed and Grunge-loving woman causing the frontman to conspire and fantasise- perhaps a little edgy and determined; she possesses a necessary amount of spunk and rebellion. Whereas my mind- in the initial seconds- was trained towards the press and celebrity, here- by the 30 second mark- it mutates towards issues (and realities of love and attraction). That expected burst does arrive- not in the way anyone would predict or expect. Having digested Waterbodies’ album; here any explosion and cacophony came in the form of full-bloodied anger and anxiety- there were moments of joy and upbeat; most of the sentiments erred towards introspective hurt. When What the French Call “Les Incompétents”‘s key moment does arrive, you cannot help but to smile and be caught up in its multifarious whirlpool of energy. The boys unfurl a chorus of “woo-ooh-oohs“; containing Indie and ‘Britpop’ elements, your mind is taken back to a golden age of music. Not cynical or overtly aimless- the coda provides sunshine and a youthful swagger that adds light and urgency into an already potent track. As much as the arm-raising, fist-pounding hypnotic mantra implores you to toss yourself about like a rag doll; the underlying and subtler sonics prick the imagination. I have mentioned how some of Beastie Boys Hip-Hop experimentation comes into the band’s work: here there is turntable scratching; some Beastie’-esque tableau and flavours- whilst one half of your brain drags towards reckless loss of inhibitions; the other half contorts, jives and sways. Motifs of black-and-white are reintroduced in the next verse. Having been seduced and enamoured of a particular heroine, our hero casts his net to universal climbs: professing “Black girls, white girls make me cry“, the full extent of his dissatisfaction and disconnectedness come into play- the vocal remains strong and never lowers to nasal whine. Whether a relationship has hit the rocks; if a particular beau has caused some cynicism or hurt, all our hero has is grey on his mind- if he is through with women or needs someone genuinely different I am not sure. I get the impression multiple women have caused our frontman some hurt and chagrin: nobody can deny the sense of resignation and displeasure. Affecting an air of fatigue and anxiety, it is a bad time to go out: the deeper and more intuitive listener always looks for true meaning in a song’s messages. Having a knack for intriguing images and stirring emotions, here Waterbodies get the mind working overtime: our mysterious frontman clearly has something pressing to get off of his chest, yet mentions no particular subject or epicentre. Just as you start to fill some blanks in- once more threading the story together- the band are back into catchy and emphatic arenas: that infectious and insatiable chorus comes into proceedings- your body is inspired to jump and jive once more. Possessed of a great sense of attitude, avalanche and sweat, the song has a ubiquitous quality that means few listeners will not fall under its spell. Just at home in the beer-soaked pits of mosh or the less hazardous settings of a seating-only arenas; the song’s catchy and unforgettable elements cannot be ignored or overlooked- What the French Call “Les Incompétents” is a track to infuse the senses and stun the brain. Not even at the half-way marker, you start to perspire a bit. Numbers are instilled this time- as opposed to black-and-white scenes- with our frontman stating “One time, two times, three’s enough“- it is said that the foreplay is getting rough. Embarrassed by my earlier naivety and over-examination, it is clear where the loins rest and play: something sexualised and raw is writhing beneath the sheets. Before I continue with the lustful and lip-biting point, I should mention the song’s title. Every blog, review and commentator- I guess I am not special in this sense- has highlighted that it forms a quote from Home Alone. As much as you do not want to picture Macaulay Culkin during this song- or any time for that matter- it was one of the stand-out lines from the 1990 hit movie: directed at the bungling intruders, the smug infant used the French terms as an in-your-face jibe. A London band have also used Les Incompétents to form their moniker- the song on display here is anything but (inept or useless). Quite an original and unique title, it is perhaps inevitable you would be imagining high-jinx capers: a booby trap or floor of marbles upends the clumsy burglars? Quite a strange juxtaposition- given the passionate and rough foreplay- but hey ho. With images of long-forgotten films out of his mind, our frontman is keen to step away from the pandemonium and peculiarity of the situation. Whatever is going down- err from smutty suggestions- he does not do this for the woman: he does it for himself. There is no need for hollow thrill or satisfying a player: miscommunication and contrasting ideals cause the hero to put the truth out there- he is the one in control and calling the shots. Rocking the line between “right and wrong” and “left and right“, the energy and bubbling menace builds. Not entirely stepping away from their Grunge influences, a terrifically growled and italic vocal is offered: the words are punctuated with a very steely and cocksure delivery. Entwined within a composition that provides kicking and chanting guitars, killer riffs; punchy percussion and thudding bass, and you have quite a powerful aroma coming through. Our hero is up and down; present in the day and night- a unpredictable creature, he goes where his mood and instinct take him. Whether he wanders the night looking for a thrill; driving through daylight highways to clear his mind, you get the sense of a young man who wants to seek out the vitality and urgency of life- those that live life with no risks will succumb to a beige and boring fate. The trio masters of tease and temptation- perhaps befitting of a track that is promoting the benefits of short bursts- the verse’s snaking curiosity gives way to the chorus- with the sort of rampant energy 1997 Damon Albarn would eat up, it cements and solidifies the overall sensation of free spirit lust and live-for-the-moment ambition. Perhaps in awe of the sweltering heat (and breaking-point of the lyrics), the vocals take a back seat: in the final moments our frontman elicits a pained and teeth-clenched shout- the composition twists and mutates into a snarling beast of a thing. The guitars zombify and evolve into machines- a robot on the rampage, Beastie Boys and (OK Computer-era) Radiohead can be heard. With the bass adding majesty and time-keeping maturity; the percussion clattering with a hell-yeah attitude- tied to intermittent blood-curdling utterings from the inflated lungs of our hero- the track reaches its most enfevered and unbearably tense moments. Most bands would needless string together a series of unconnected and irrelevant notes: literally add noise into the song in the vain attempt at proffering to the lower common denominator listener. Waterbodies make sure their aural assault is packed with layers and meaning: there is catchiness and insistent drive here; something reckless and unfettered; a combination of composure and insane detachment- it is designed to mess with bra clasps as well as the senses. Just as you want- and damn it, demand– more, the song starts to come down to land. With some conclusive feedback, it is as though the band have walked off stage: thrown their instruments into the crowd, they make a dramatic exit- leaving the exhausted throng to try to comprehend everything that has come before. When I reached the 2:41 mark, I was stunned at just how much was crammed into one song- it points at a very bright future for the group.
If the Canadian trio keep penning chef-d’oeuvres like this, then they could find themselves the recipients of some very important phone calls. As we- in the U.K.- are in the midst of festival season, I am hearing many inferior bands top the bill at our most high-profile dates- surely that gives inspiration to the likes of Waterbodies. Perhaps my French uttering has hyperbole and over-exaggeration, yet you cannot deny the band are a pure force to be reckoned with. What the French Call “Les Incompétents” is a tight and compelling song from a group that are growing (with intent) upon each new release. With the blogosphere alight with effusive and enamoured praise, it bodes well for their future success- they are popular in their native country, yet deserve a wider audience. Europe and the U.K. has always had its ear firmly to the ground, so I hope that it is not long until the trio find themselves heralded over here. Their sound is a hugely popular and could see them being in huge demand. What the French Call “Les Incompétents” not only wins you over with its charming and unexpected origins; the intensity and memorability of the track is the main selling point here. The boys put in their most focused and tight performance ever: the song never loses its edge and sense of determination from start to finish. The vocal performance is a strong, urgent and defiant throughout. Our frontman allows his inner Grunge to come play- towards the closing moments- but for the large part presents a very unique and particular vocal. Imbued with passion, spit, lust and sly wink, it is a performance I would like to see extended across multiple songs- something to bear in mind for the future. Able to tempt and softly speak, it can go to an impassioned and rueful belt in next to no time- the mobility and range that is provided is quite stunning. Words of What the French Call “Les Incompétents” compel even the most casual listener to imagine and picture: it is impossible not to have your own version of events running through your mind as the song plays. Showing a keen ear for economy, the band do not stuff too many words into the song: they give the lyrics a chance to breathe and strike; ensuring that the verses are measured and concise- the quality of the words cannot be ignored. Towing an intelligent line between laddish and immature; mature and intent, you wonder how the song worked out. The final notes give the impression our hero has some thinking to do; needing to work things out, perhaps there are some loose ends he needs to explore. The exceptional and clear production allows the music to shine and pervade hard. The bass adds an immense weight and support throughout: ranging from hard-hitting and driving to measured and empathetic, it is a terrific performance. Percussion notes are largely impassioned and hot-blooded: nobly supporting the hero’s plight, they clatter, pummel and tumble- capable of giving off so much emotion and force, it displays a drummer with a clear identity and talent. When the guitar makes it voice known, we get some of the most exciting moments of What the French Call “Les Incompétents”. A snarling and pained animal the one moment; a steadier snaking slither the next, the notes perfectly match the emotions and words of the foreground- ensuring the song’s potency and urgency never drops. If you have not heard the band- and What the French Call “Les Incompétents” then this is a great starting place. The track is perfectly suited for these warm days: adding sunshine and serotonin into the system; inspiring you to get outside and experience the track at full volume. It is the kind of adaptable song that means it can be enjoyed at any moment- just as suited to colder and lonelier moments, there is plenty to uplift the soul and cause a smile. With a sexy and passionate heart, it is a song synonymous with repeatability- it may be a very long time until you get the track out of your mind.
In the next few weeks I am taking a bit of a break from Canada and North America: I should probably give other parts of the world a chance to shine and impress! The fact that I say this is related to one very key point: I shall be back (reviewing similarly-located acts) because there is so much to witness and love here. Whilst the U.S. is favouring music with some terrific Pop, Indie and Folk; Canada is edging ahead when it comes to more energised and upbeat sounds. What the French Call “Les Incompétents” is a stunning testament from a band that make the mouth water. For anyone that is familiar with the guys- and their rich history- they will hear some familiarity; there are plenty of new edges and layers to investigate- something more charmed and elliptical comes through on their current offering. It is going to be exciting and fascinating to see what comes next from the St. Catherines trio. I am not sure whether another album is mooted- maybe an E.P.- but I am sure the boys have plans for a new release pretty soon. On the evidence they have just put forth, it will be a terrific and memorable collection of songs- whether What the French Call “Les Incompétents” is a red herring or their new direction, only time will tell. It would be great to see the trio in London: few U.S. and Canadian acts often travel to the U.K.; many fans and eager music-lovers have plenty of pounds set aside to witness acts such as Waterbodies. Before I wrap up this review- with my deft blend of style and succinctness- I just want to re-introduce (one of my favourite) topics: originality and ambition in music (I know that’s two subjects: semantics be damned!). A lot of new musicians still overlook the importance of providing something unexpected and different- not just sticking to rigid confines and offering staid and predictable sounds. Alas, I sound like a curmudgeonly old whiner harking on about ‘the good old days’ (whenever the hell they were)- moody and judgemental of kids and their new-fangled music. Not at all, you see: the sounds I grew up on were incorporated of bravery, adventurousness and surprise. I feel that some musicians are regressing and retreating: the best that new music has to offer is defined by the desire to present something genuinely unique. Waterbodies clearly understand this vital point: their music goes that step further and inflames something deep down. What the French Call “Les Incompétents” is a song that has been gathering some rather excited and impassioned reviews: publications have been extolling the virtues of Waterbodies’ most exciting and memorable song to date. It seems that few names will be uninitiated to Waterbodies in due course: they gets stronger with each release and showcase themselves as a serious band to watch. The last week has brought many exciting bands to my attention- including Allusondrugs and The Verideals- and am being given a lot of hope with regards the future of music- it appears that it is in very good hands. If you enjoy your sounds instilled with quality, unexpectedness, originality- in addition to some familiar and legendary threads- then make sure you get to grips with Waterbodies. The chaps are some of the most inventive and mobile bands in the world: not keen to rest on laurels or stick with the same sound, they are deftly able to weave new genres and sights into their cannon. Over the coming weeks, the trio embark on some tour dates around Canada- gauging reaction to their sparkly new song- seeing what sort of reaction their invoke in the live setting. They have said they can make a lot of noise with guitar, bass and drum; this is an understatement if ever I heard one: it is not just noise and sound they whip up; plenty of intrigue and intelligence comes through with striking intent. Glowing reviews are coming in at the rate of knots; plenty of information and detail shines in their music; masses of quotes and effusive words have been forthcoming…
SURELY enough to put on Facebook, right?
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